How Electric Cars Could Power Up the UK Grid

A UK university is helping to trial chargers that could see power flow back into the National Grid from electric cars and pay motorists at the same time.

The bi-directional charger — a two-way route for cars to be powered up and electricity from vehicles to tap up the electric grid — is being designed as part of a project involving Newcastle University, Imperial College, London, and car maker Nissan.

Thought to be the world’s first, the chargers allow car owners to charge their vehicles in times of low demand but make money by feeding back into the grid when demand is high.

The aim is to make renewable sources affordable and boost grid capacity.

The £9.8m e4Futures project will see 1,000 charging stations — made at Nissan’s Sunderland factory — installed across the UK.

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy has awarded the funding to make the first charger a reality.

The project is headed by Nissan, the infrastructure for the chargers backed by the National Grid and UK Power Networks. Data analysis will be conducted by Newcastle University and Imperial College.

The development is part of the government’s desire to see all cars on UK roads to have zero emissions by 2030.

To achieve this commitment, there need to be two million electric vehicles — compared to 130,000 presently operational in the UK.

Myriam Neaimeh, Newcastle University’s project lead manager, described the project as “a real game changer” in decarbonising the grid.

She added:

“This will be the first, large-scale demonstration of vehicle-to-grid technology anywhere in the world.”

The project, she commented, also brought together a host of players — from automotive to energy providers.

Francisco Carranza, managing director of Nissan Energy, said:

“This will have a fundamental impact on the shift from fossil fuels to renewables.”

“Our electric vehicles can be plugged into the grid and support the transmission and distribution companies in making the UK grid more sustainable and more stable.”

The project taps into a £30m investment from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which is alongside the Office for Low Emission Vehicles and Innovate UK to build growth of electric vehicles.

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